A Night to Remember

Yes, Hi. This is me just letting you know that the Snow Patrol concert was everything I could have ever hoped for. I am voiceless and harder of hearing today, and it was worth it.

Please enjoy these videos that someone else took last night:

I’ll be reliving these songs for weeks to come. I already wish I could go back in time and experience last night all over again. Instead I’ll just have to wait until Snow Patrol comes back around again.

Now, then. Back to my “vacation”.

 

BZ

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The Recap – April 2019

Now, Blogland, I knew working two jobs was a pretty big time suck. I knew it affected my productivity. But I thought I’d need a ramp up period after quitting Starbucks to get back to the levels of output I’d once had. Turns out, not so much.

April Goals

  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Read 1 short story/week
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • YES! And more! I wrote an average of over 600 words a day on this project in April.
  • Read 1 short story/week
    • Yep. I read/listened to five short stories this month, so once again I went above and beyond.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. The three stories are still waiting, but I also wrote a (very) short piece for a contest, which I’ll talk more about once I can. It’s all very hush, hush for now.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yep! I read so much this past month. I think something like nine titles, not counting the short stories. There were five book reviews posted to the blog in April.

Monthly Word Count: 21,140

April was a test of endurance and distraction. Endurance in that I came at writing the manuscript as a daily practice, doing a little bit each day. Now that all is said and done, I wrote an average of 639 words each day on Tavi. Now, I didn’t actually write every single day. There were days where I wrote nothing, but the next day wrote over 1500 words. But I kept coming back and kept track of where I was at on the way to my goal. And it worked.

For once, I mean distraction as a good thing. Usually distraction comes as video games or a tv binge session, both of which tend to seep into my writing time. But in April, I knew I needed a distraction from my pending submissions or I would go nuts with the anxiety. So, I threw myself into my writing, into reading, and into writing/author events. Which meant it was a really busy month.

Things I did:

  • Went on two hikes, one to Cape Lookout and another to Opal Creek. Total mileage: 12.6, with elevation gains of 810 feet and 652 feet, respectively.
  • Went on one Walk ‘n’ Talk with Madhu. Total Mileage: 2.8 miles, with only a 16 foot elevation gain.
  • Three neighborhood walks with Simon, totaling 2.5 miles, with negligible elevation gain. My neighborhood is pretty flat.
  • Went to the SFWA Reading in Portland where I met four authors and networked a little. Also got to try a new brewery and spend time with Husbando.
  • Celebrated Independent Bookstore Day by going to two bookstores. Met up with Ken Scholes and shot the shit, made more writer contacts in the area. Also celebrated the release of The Audient Void‘s seventh issue (buy your copy here).
  • Attended the Willamette Writers meeting on April 17th. Listened to Ken Coomes talk about all kinds of stuff, from Self-publishing to the benefits of public speaking on your writing. I don’t feel like I got very much out of it, but I did like the presenter himself. Seemed like a nice guy.
  • Launched my Patreon! This will eventually have an announcement post all its own. Right now it’s a bit of a fledgling thing while I figure out what sort of content to share with patrons. So far there will be a Newsletter, a short story each month, and some freebie writing tips. If you’d like to support me, or just check out the free stuff, you should swing on by.

And that doesn’t include all the quality reading and writing time! What a busy month! And from the look of things, May is set to be the same.

May Goals

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read a short story each week
  • Keep reading!

I’m sticking with the adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Last month went really well, so let’s keep that momentum going!

May is already looking like a busy month, so I want to get Tavi done by Monday May 13th. Which means I have just under two weeks to write about 11,000 words. Luckily there’s the Willamette Writers Write Here, Write Now event this weekend, so it should be a good opportunity to really hash out some words and get the jump on the final chapters of this book.

The week of the 13th is a big one for non-writing reasons. The 14th is the Snow Patrol concert. I can’t believe it’s almost here! Any time I think about it I just get this giddy glowy feeling because I love them so much and I one hundred percent thought I would never get to see them perform again.

Image result for snow patrol tour
I love them so very very very much. 

So there’s that. But there’s also a girls’ weekend in central Oregon right after that, visiting a friend and hiking all the things. We’re going to the Painted Hills and probably Smith Rock. It’s gonna be warm and sunny and I’m going to be a very happy Desert Rat. And probably sunburned. There will be photos.

So, I NEED to finish Tavi before that week because it’s my vacation week. My week to turn off my writing brain and have fun! My celebration week, to congratulate myself on a job well done. A six month long project finally finished.

Because after that comes a whole new slew of projects and goals. I have a lot of things waiting on the end of May so it’s going to be a stressful last half of the month. I want to work hard and play hard in the first half.

I’ll be back on Friday with the review for The Light Brigade. Then probably quiet here over the weekend while I focus on finishing this book.

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

 

A Long Lesson on Yourself

All right guys, blog time again. Partly because I’m avoiding my Historical Geology homework, and because I just finished my meeting with Patrick. For those of you not privy, Patrick is the director of the Creative Writing Department at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. We’re working together on making my stories better this semester.

Now, before I get knee deep into today’s topic, I’m feeling a little descriptive. Allow me to paint your minds.

For those of you not in AZ (lucky you), it is cloudy today, and it actually rained this morning! There’s a cool breeze that continuously shakes the umbrella attached to the wrought iron patio furniture I’m sitting at. This small circle of tables, surrounded by a low lying concrete wall forms the modest courtyard of Chandler-Gilbert’s A and B buildings. I’m sitting, in my Jason Mraz hoodie, drinking a cup of Seattle’s Best (Henry’s Blend, medium, 3 sugars and cream), enjoying strawberry poptarts and listening to Snow Patrol.

There, setting has been officially set.

Now, to today’s topic!

In my meeting with Patrick (do you like how we’ve already come full circle?) we discussed my story “Goodbye Marla”. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that “Marla” has already been published, so why would we go over it again? Here’s what I have to say to that: if you’re an artist in any capacity, you know that nothing you create will ever be good enough. You will always wish you’d done this, or changed that, and no matter how successful or how well liked your work is, you will always see its flaws. The sooner you come to terms with this, and get used to this way of thinking, the less miserable you will be.

All right, tangent officially over.

The first thing Patrick told me about “Marla”, in his small but iconically “Patrick” office, was that he loved my main character, Jason’s, voice. Which led me to tell Patrick that yesterday in my Novel Writing class we were workshopping my chapters and everyone loved my character’s voice. I seem to be getting a lot of voice compliments, which I am very proud of.

Have you guessed today’s topic yet?

 

What’s that?

 

Voice?

 

DING DING DING!!!!!!

Voice it is!

So what about it? What does voice lend to a story and what am I doing that everyone’s enjoying it? How can you do that too?

Get ready because here we go!

According to Wikipedia (I hear you groaning English Professors, and I tell you, Wikipedia is fine as long as you know what you’re looking for), Voice is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author.

Think of your favorite authors, the ones you come back to time and again and stand in line for when a new book comes out. What do you love about them? You love their characters? You love the world their stories take place in? You love the relationships between characters? Think broader, more base.

Ultimately, you love the way they tell stories. And that’s what voice really is. It’s how the author tells you the story. Anyone can tell a story! And that’s why I believe that anyone can write a story, but think about it this way…

Do you know any six year olds? I do. Think about when they tell you a story. It usually takes a while, gets side-tracked, and doesn’t usually finish very well, right? It just sort of ends? Well, at six, they’re just telling you what happened, and what they thought and what that makes them think now. Which is all fine and good. But once you’ve discovered your voice, you begin to learn what parts of the story people actually want to hear, and you learn to tell those parts in even more interesting ways.

And once you’ve discovered your voice? What then?

WRITE!!!!!

Write anything and everything! Journaling is an extremely effective way of developing voice, because you’re just writing in your own voice with no pressure for excellence or even correct spelling and grammar (unless you’re like me and a stickler even in your private writings).

So, we’ve talked about author’s voice, but what did Patrick mean when he said he loved Jason’s voice?

When you’ve developed your own voice, and you write naturally with it, you’ll discover that your characters take on a voice of their own. Jason’s a southern rocker with a long list of lovers. Pretty much the opposite from me in every way. Therefore, if he’s developed, he shouldn’t talk like me. He’s nothing like me!

Side note: I just took a sip of my coffee…. it’s rather cold. Nothing induces a gag reflex in me quite like cold coffee…. BLEGH!

OK, we’re back. Sorry, my mind’s a bit all over the place today.

So, when writing in Jason’s voice, there are a lot of things to consider. First of all, he’s Southern. So, he has an accent. But, if you refer to the work, you’ll see that in the dialogue I don’t hit you over the head with a Southern drawl. That would be heavy handed and distracting. Instead, I think of Jason’s voice in a sense of rhythm. Maybe it’s because he’s a musician, I don’t know, but that’s how I think of it. I know that because of his accent, there’s a slowness to his words. I know that his voice is soft when he speaks, but throaty and rough when he sings. I also know that he doesn’t say much, but that he chooses his words carefully, and packs a punch when he needs to.

Again, all of this is pretty opposite from me. I tend to blather on about nothing and don’t think before swan diving into awkward situations.

All of this lets me create Jason’s voice, and make him sound real. Because to me, he IS real. If your characters aren’t developed, their voices will waver. And I believe it’s true for the author as well. The more you learn and know about yourself, the better your writing voice will be.

So, get out there and read. Then write. Then read some more. Then write even more. Challenge yourself by creating characters the polar opposite of yourself. And don’t stop, no matter what.

 

Sincerely,

BZ

 

P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day, and Happy Centennial, Arizona!